Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hi-Def Comedy: This Is Spinal Tap (Blu-Ray, 2009)

WHAT: First (and only) Blu-Ray release of the movie
GOOD IF YOU LIKE: Comedy that ages well, Christopher Guest movies
WHERE TO FIND IT: Some smaller movie and record shops, online

The 1984 movie is, without a doubt, one of the most enduring comedies of the 1980s. If you've seen it, you'll no doubt admire how rewatchable it is, and how the bulk of the film has actually aged quite nicely. Thankfully, the very marketable movie has made the transition to Blu-Ray and the good news is that it looks just as good as it ever has. More or less.

In short: if you have never seen This Is Spinal Tap you are a bad person and may as well get this version to make amends. Comedy dorks will find a lot to like here, although it's not nearly as robust as the LaserDisc or Criterion DVD.

On DVD, this was a pretty popular release as the Criterion release turned out to be quite rare, and the later release was sold for bargain prices at big box stores everywhere. This release picks up the latter of the two DVDs and runs with it-- the various Criterion-only commentaries and scenes aren't all here, which is unfortunate, as they were quite amusing. A commentary is present, as are a number of features and deleted scenes which seem to be a mix of previous releases.

A suite of commercials for "Rock & Rolls" exist-- think Hot Pockets-- which are based off the scene in which they get lost backstage before a concert. While cute, these seem to have taken the place of any sort of theatrical trailer. Other existing extras come from the vault like "Catching Up with Marty DiBergi." It's a new (in 2000) interview with Rob Reiner's character from the movie, with lots of vintage footage of the band mixed in-- so deleted scene fans, you'll spot some new old stuff here. The vintage "Flower People" press conference is here, there's a Joe Franklin show interview, and a smattering of music videos. (Well, at least "Hell Hole" is a bit more than movie footage.)

And there are many deleted scenes, some of which were not on the previous special editions.

The one really strange thing about this Blu-Ray is the inclusion of a bonus DVD with new material-- a 2007 Live Earth concert with Rob Reiner and the group, plus a National Geographic interview with Nigel Tufnel, but focusing on Stonehenge. (Mostly the song.) Why this material was not included directly on the Blu-Ray itself, which has a number of low-resolution bonus features, is not known to us.

Is it worth the upgrade? Basically, yes-- we got a copy (new, sealed) off eBay for $15. That was worth it, but we're also still holding on to our Criterion DVD because it still has exclusive features.
Is it worth it as your only copy? Yes. The main reason to get this is for the film itself, the extras are nice but all the best stuff made the final cut.

(This is the "Cheese Rolling" trailer which is included in the SD aspect ratio on the Blu-Ray disc.)

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